Name: Sassafras
Binomial: Sassafras albidum
Family: Lauraceae

The roots of the sassafras tree are added to maple sap and brewed into a flavourful tea, which can also be made into jelly.

The young sassafras leaves are used fresh in salads or dried and ground into filé powder, an ingredient in Creole cuisine for thickening soups, stews, chowders and gravies.

A sassafras condiment is made by boiling the dried root bark with sugar and water to form a thick, sweet paste.

The young buds of the tree are edible.

Sassafras wood is sometimes combined with hickory when smoking Southern dry-cured country hams, imparting a distinctive flavour.

Warning: Sassafras contains safrole, which is reportedly carcinogenic.

It was banned by the FDA as a food additive in 1960. Source: 15th Report on Carcinogens. National Toxicology Program.